Despite new laws and public awareness campaigns in Alabama and across the nation, distracted driving—specifically texting and talking on cell phones behind the wheel—remains a leading cause of dangerous crashes involving serious injuries.
If you have been involved in a distracted driving car wreck in Huntsville or elsewhere in North Alabama, it will be important to seek help from a personal injury lawyer who will conduct an exhaustive investigation of your crash and determine whether it was the result of distracted driving.
If a driver allowed a distraction to get in the way of safely operating his or her vehicle and caused harm to you or your loved one, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay for your losses. Having a skilled attorney investigate and gather evidence to show the other driver was distracted offers the best chance for you to obtain full compensation for your losses.
To learn more about your rights after being injured by a distracted driver, contact Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. With more than 90 years of combined legal experience, our car wreck lawyers know how to determine precisely what caused an accident and how to seek just compensation for victims and their families. We can provide a timely, courtesy consultation about your case.
How Can Our Huntsville Distracted Driving Attorney Help?
We will investigate the accident thoroughly. If we can establish evidence that another driver’s negligence caused your crash, you can seek a full and fair settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or take the case to court.
To establish that the negligent behavior involved distracted driving takes skill and hard work and a legal team with experience handling this type of car accident. For instance, you need to gather evidence that not only shows that the driver was engaged in a distracting activity, but that, in fact, the distraction caused the crash. You must also take note if you were hit by an uninsured driver. It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident, so that the attorney can collect the facts, preserve evidence and undertake the necessary legal procedures.
During the investigation, our attorneys look for many types of evidence that a driver was distracted, including:
- Cell phone records
- The other driver admits to it
- Interrogatories and depositions
- Eyewitness interviews (including passengers)
- Photos of the crash scene and vehicles
- Security camera footage
- Police report or officer testimony
In some cases, we may utilize the services of an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the evidence and provide an expert opinion. The expert may find, for example, that an at-fault driver’s phone activity coupled with the lack of skid marks before the impact indicate that the driver was distracted and that the accident could have been prevented if the driver was focused on the road. The expert’s conclusion can serve as strong proof of negligence.
If you or your loved one has been harmed by a distracted driver in Huntsville or anywhere in North Alabama, let our dedicated car wreck attorneys help you pursue just compensation. By pursuing a personal injury claim with the help of an experienced attorney from Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., you can receive compensation for the physical, mental and financial damages you suffered due to an accident caused by a distracted driver.
Too Many Drivers Ignore the Dangers of Distracted Driving
By now, drivers in Alabama and other states should be well aware of the dangers of distracted driving. A number of studies have called attention to the harm distracted drivers can cause. A 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that eight people die and 1,161 more people are injured each day in the United States in crashes involving distracted driving.
8 PEOPLE DIE EACH DAY IN CRASHES INVOLVING DISTRACTED DRIVING
1,161 PEOPLE ARE INJURED EACH DAY IN CRASHES INVOLVING DISTRACTED DRIVERS
Unfortunately, traffic deaths in Alabama during the first half of 2016 increased 26 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the National Safety Council. Many of those fatal crashes were preventable accidents caused by distracted drivers. Accidents involving lane departures, over-correction and hitting fixed objects are indicators of distracted driving.
A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) report published in 2016 said that across the U.S., accidents in which the driver was distracted at the time of the crash represent:
In approximately 400 crashes in 2014, a driver was using a cell phone, the report said.
If anything, the extent of distracted driving accidents in Alabama and across the U.S. is likely underreported, the National Safety Council has said. Many at-fault drivers do not admit they were talking on a phone when an accident occurred. Unless police obtain cell phone records and make the determination, the cause of the accident may be coded as something other than a distracted driving accident.
People should know that certain types of distracted driving, such as texting, are now widely prohibited by law. For example, the North Alabama cities of Huntsville, Madison, Decatur, and Athens all banned texting while driving in 2010. Two years later, Alabama became the 38th state to approve a statewide ban on texting and driving.
What Does Alabama’s Texting and Driving Law Prohibit?
It is not illegal under Alabama law to use a cell phone while driving except in limited circumstances. Specifically, Alabama Code Section 32-5A-350 prohibits motorists from driving on a public road or highway in Alabama while using a wireless telecommunication device to write, send or read text messages through manual input. According to the law, “text-based communications” include email, instant messages, and regular text messages. The device could be a handheld cell phone, text messaging device, digital assistant, or laptop computer.
A texting and driving ticket carry a $25 fine for the first violation, $50 for the second, and a $75 fine for the third. These violations also add two points to your driving record.
The law allows motorists to receive driving directions on a navigation system as long as the desired coordinates were pre-programmed. It allows the use of a wireless device while parked on the shoulder of the road. It also allows the use of a wireless communication device to summon police or emergency assistance.
Additionally, state law prohibits any cell phone use by drivers ages 18 and younger who have restricted licenses. Teen drivers are less experienced and are more susceptible to distractions, studies show. Drivers ages 15 to 19 represent the largest proportion of drivers involved in fatal distracted driving accidents, according to the NHTSA.
Recognizing this serious safety issue involving young drivers, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department each summer offers free one-day distracted driving courses to educate young drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office Distracted Driving Program, sponsored by Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., is offered to students ages 15 and up at all five Madison County high schools as well as Huntsville High and Bob Jones High School.
The U.S. Department of Transportation conducts annual distracted driver awareness publicity campaigns each year during the month of April to remind drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and existing bans. Last year, the Alabama Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies participated in the six-day “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” enforcement sweep that led to the issuance of dozens of texting-while-driving violations across Alabama.
How Many People Text and Drive?
Every day in the United States, about nine people are killed and over 1,000 people are injured in car crashes that involve a distracted driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Texting and driving are among the most common forms of distracted driving, which is defined as driving while doing something else that diverts your attention away from driving. Distracted driving can drastically increase the chance of a car crash.
In a single recent year, distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That included 1,730 drivers and 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians, and 77 cyclists.
Texting is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving. When someone types, sends, or reads a text, they take their eyes off the road for approximately five seconds, which is long enough to cover 100 yards, or the length of a football field, while driving at 55 mph.
Alabama Distracted Driving
The following statistics illustrate how serious the distracted driving problem is in Alabama:
- In one recent year, distracted driving was the cause of at least 40 fatalities in Alabama
- 43% of teenage drivers in Alabama text while driving, according to a study from the Journal of Adolescent Health.
- Alabama has the second-highest rate of car accident fatalities in the country.
Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving in Alabama
Distracted driving describes anything that diverts our attention from the road while we are driving. It is not just the dangers of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving that people ignore.
Drivers frequently allow other distractions to divert their eyes, hands or focus on the road, including:
- Adjusting the radio or a CD or MP3 player
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming (such as applying makeup or combing one’s hair)
- Entering data in a navigational system
- Watching videos
- Handling a pet
- Listening to loud music
- Talking with passengers
A driver’s attention should be focused on the task of driving when behind the wheel. Texting and driving is especially dangerous because it diverts our eyes, our hands, and our thoughts away from driving. Allowing any distraction to get in the way can lead to a dangerous accident. For example, a driver who looks down at a text can run through a stop sign, run off the road to cause a rollover accident or rear-end a car that brakes unexpectedly. A driver who takes a hand off the wheel to pat a dog in the backseat can drift into another lane of traffic and cause a head-on collision.
Even carrying on a conversation with a hands-free cell phone can be dangerous, studies show. It may cause a driver to lose track of the speed at which they are traveling or lose awareness of changes in surrounding traffic, including vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., Partners with WHNT to Stop Distracted Driving
Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., proudly partnered with WHNT News 19 for a prime-time television special on distracted driving. The program aired Saturday, February 27, 2016. It highlighted the issue of texting and driving and the effect it has on so many lives throughout our nation.
“In 2016, the average person won’t drink and drive—they won’t even get in a car with someone who is drinking and driving—but the average person will text and drive or ride with someone who is texting and driving. Through public awareness campaigns, and in large part because of the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, attitudes about drunk driving changed. Harvey Morris, David Hodge, Joey Aiello and I are committed to changing attitudes about texting and driving, so we proudly sponsor programs aimed at curbing distracted driving.”
For more information or a chance to view the complete special, visit our Distracted Driving Special resource today, and help end texting and driving!
How Morris, King & Hodge Can Help If You Have Been Injured
At Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., we are prepared to thoroughly and independently investigate your car accident. Our Huntsville car accident attorneys will work hard to establish that a driver’s distracted driving – or another form of negligence – caused the crash. We will then seek a fair settlement with the liable driver’s insurer or take your case to court if necessary.
It takes skill and diligence to establish that the at-fault driver’s negligence involved distracted driving. Our legal team has extensive experience handling these types of car accidents.
You can rely on the skills and knowledge of the Huntsville distracted driving attorneys at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C. Allow us to provide a thorough evaluation of your case. If it looks like another motorist’s distracted driving was the cause of your accident, we will fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today or contact us online.